By Steve Petrick
Women’s basketball captain Eva ain could barely walk on Saturday night, but she was smiling anyway.
Her Rams just beat the Ottawa Gee Gees 42-34, marking their second victory in a must-win situation in two nights. Neither win came easily for the fourth-year early childhood education student.
Ain was elbowed in the ribs while running through the key during the first half of Friday’s tilt with the Carleton Ravens. She went to the floor and started screaming in pain, but moments later she got up and walked to the team’s bench. After a few minutes she returned to the floor and played for most of the rest of the game. She finished with eight points in the Rams’ 50-40 win.
By Saturday the pain in her ribs was still there and a sore back that had plagued her the week before was starting to ail again. Still, she managed to log 30 minutes of playing time while picking up five points and a team-high seven defensive rebounds.
After the game she limped through the hallway adjacent to Kerr gym. Her face was pale and sweat was running down her face. “I’m broken,” she said.
From a physical standpoint maybe. On an emotional level, Ain’s contribution this year has been anything but damaging. After taking a year off to focus on school, the five-foot-nine forward has returned to provide leadership and consistency to a team that’s short on experience.
In her nine regular-season games OUA statisticians recorded, Ain averaged 6.8 points a game, making her second on the team. Her rebound rate of 4.56 a game had her in third, while her 27 turnovers made her second on the squad.
More important than the statistics is the fact that after last weekend’s wins the Rams are still in the playoff hunt. With their league record now at 3-7, they are two points behind the Ravens, who at 4-6 hold fourth place and the final playoff spot in the East division.
The placing isn’t bad considering seven of the team’s 11 players are in first or second year. But head coach Sandra Pothier knows the record probably wouldn’t be as good if Ain wasn’t on the team.
In the fall Pothier approached Ain and asked her to return. “I said ‘I need some leadership. We need someone who can add stability to the team,’” Pothier recalled saying. “That’s what she brings.
“She understands the offence and she’s very calm on the floor. She brings a lot of maturity on the court and that helps the younger players a lot.” Those young players were the reason ain wanted to come back. Two years ago, a lengthy losing streak in the second half of the season made ain and several other players lose their passion for basketball. This year, however, she’s back having fun.
“It was a tough decision [to come back],” Ain said. “But the girls here are a great bunch and in terms of basketball, there were still some thing I wanted to accomplish.”
The goals she’s achieving are hard to measure with a score sheet. She contributes to the team mostly by grabbing rebounds, diving for loose balls and setting an example of good work ethic. That’s partly why she got up quickly after being checked in the ribs on Friday.
“We expect that from her, because she has experience,” said second-year guard Treisha Hylton. “I expect her to be tough and she’s proven to me she’s tough. When things like that happen I’m not surprised to see her get up.”